THEME : Write the Toph/Sokka/Zuko triangle
THIS is my attempt at Twilight Rose2's May Contest C: it's my first time writing anything other than Zutara o o; so the Zoko might be totally...er...off. Actually, there is still Zutara in here because I just can't resist, I hope it's alright, and I'd definitely appreciate some feedback on this C: I think I've taken a shine to drabbles and such, they're so much easier to write, and quicker, too! But no worries, I just had to take a crack at the challenge, and I'll get back to getting out the next chapters of my Zutara fics, Lol.
It wasn't like I was jealous or anything. Why should I be? I was perfectly happy on my own; I didn't need a man to complete my already wonderful life. I didn't need any of that, I was independent and successful. The Waterbending Ambassadress for the South Pole! A Master Waterbender, the Head Healer, and a consultant to the Fire Lord himself!
I was doing well without a man at my side, and I was happy.
Happy, happy, happy.
I was totally supportive.
Afterall, I was the one who helped set this whole thing up.
It took a single laughing matter, him mentioning that wouldn't it be funny to see if Toph was capable of romance and affection? And then what was supposed to be an experiment turned out to be so much more…
And I guess this was all my fault.
Or, no, fault has a negative connotation.
This was my work, this happy couple, their bliss…this was all courtesy of me.
Glaring? No…no I wasn't glaring, that was a smile so fierce and so genuine that it nearly breached the limitations of happiness and love. But only nearly. I was happy for Toph; unconditionally and convincingly happy. Why wouldn't I be? There was no reason for me to feel bitter or resentful.
Oh, they were for happiness.
I put on my best smile for her as she beamed at me, her pale and unseeing eyes bright, wide, beneath her dark fringe. She was glowing with a certain kind of luster that I had never seen her put on before, and I could only smile as she laughed about it, laughed about the romantic setting – the roses, the fountain, the fire-light candles, the unnecessary expanse of stars (because she couldn't see them anyways…)
And as she described it, I kept on smiling.
Even when she mentioned him getting down on one knee, I kept smiling.
On right through the proposal.
I kept smiling.
Even when she told me she said yes.
And I could only congratulate her, because of course she would say yes. I wouldn't have encouraged him if I thought she might refuse.
Toph shrugged with a kind of nonchalance that only she could employ at a time like this, lifting her hand to show me the ring, the golden band with a scarlet jewel, befitting that of a future Fire Lady. Her smile weakened just the slightest bit then, the initial shock of getting engaged wearing off. "Does it look stupid on me?" She wondered, as only Toph would.
I shook my head and continued to smile though she couldn't see it.
"No, no, it's gorgeous."
And I still smiled even through the tears.
Glad that she couldn't see it.
I didn't know what I was thinking.
Had no idea what made me do it – alright, so maybe I had an idea. But these things didn't just come out of nowhere! For something like this to happen, the thought must have been in my head for a long time, until finally good old liquid courage allowed me to do it. Which was kind of interesting, because I've always been something of a sensible drunk – if that even made sense.
But I was staring at her, at the girl glaring at me through tired eyes, standing at her door wearing an expression of utmost irritation.
"Snoozles?" She grumbled in half a breath, a sound that managed to steal mine from my parched lips, yearning for a taste of that addicting firewater. The girl, the betrothed, tilted her head to the side, looking dully annoyed, hair a mess about her face; disheveled and completely disoriented beneath the flickering torchlight of her front porch.
And never looking so beautiful.
"D'you have any idea what time it is?" The earthbender drawled lazily, not bothering to stifle a yawn. Her mouth opened wide, exposing her row of teeth, her tongue, and then it closed as she sighed, frowning at me, I realized a beat later, waiting for an answer.
I stepped forward, not wasting another breath, another second, "It's three twenty-five," I answered in a rushed whisper, throaty and groggy and completely out of my mind, "A.M." I must have looked stupid, desperate, a total loon – but she couldn't see anyway, and I had never been so grateful.
Toph blinked. "Do you realize what tomorrow is for me?" She inquired pointedly.
I wanted to say that it was technically 'tomorrow' but in my state I couldn't seem to get my tongue around the words.
If she noticed my thundering heartbeat, she didn't say a thing.
"Look—as much as I love chatting, I have a big day ahead of me and—"
I grabbed her face, and crushed my lips onto her flapping mouth mid-sentence.
I didn't want to hear the rest of it; I didn't need to hear the rest of it.
I knew exactly what tomorrow was.
There was that stupid knocking again, the impatient jabs on the door. Calling me, hurrying me. But I couldn't hurry, I couldn't even move let alone manage to cooperate with the girls tending to my gown, my hair, my nails, my makeup.
I was jittery, and they complained, but a retort was always ready on my tongue. I resisted when the offered to put more curls in my hair. I refused when they tried to add another layer of lipstick. I flailed and kicked as they gave me something old and new, and then Katara, after everyone else left, she gave me something blue.
I held it in the palm of my hand, knowing what it was before she closed my fingers around it.
"I want you to have it," she whispered hesitantly, and she must have been stupid or something, to think that I would accept her gift, to think that I didn't notice the reluctance in her voice, the rapid beating of her heart.
I scoffed, saving face, trying to maintain my dignity, as well as hers. "You know I don't wear necklaces."
She closed my fist over it and there was a stilled silence. I didn't know what to do, say, and realized it was best to just stay quiet.
Her hand slipped away from mine. "I want you to have it," the girl murmured, voice strained, strangled, and I wondered, as she walked away, as her footsteps faded with the distance when she headed for the door, if she was crying.
She paused there, at the exit, and I stared in her general direction.
"I'm happy for you."
As she left me there in my room, wearing a wedding dress I couldn't even see, I had to wonder…
When I stopped being happy.
"Marriage jitters," I assured myself, wrapping the necklace, a symbol of her past, her heart, her very being, given to me, given away, around my wrist. "That's all."
And I put on my best smile for absolutely no one as I marched towards the door.
I could tell it was him, should have known it was him even before he reached me, but I was too distracted in convincing myself that I was happy. I wondered what he must have looked like – was he wearing a tux? Was his hair tied back? Did he still carry his boomerang?
That last thought made me chuckle. "Came to see me to the altar, Snoozles?"
He didn't laugh.
His heart was racing.
And then his hands were on mine and I braced myself for another kiss – when it didn't come, I had to insist that I wasn't hoping for one.
"I wanted to apologize—" he began, "I'm—"
But I tore my hands away.
"I'm late for my wedding."
I stood there, probably looking stupid and overly-done in gold and scarlet and jewels and things, fidgeting by the altar, waiting and waiting as the bridesmaids, all looking beautiful in their crimson dresses – a dark-skinned waterbender in particular – moved on down the path to Uncle's song, waiting for the bride to come waltzing down the aisle at her father's arm.
My eyes caught hers then, as she stood at the other side of the altar, amongst the bridesmaids, her, the Maid of Honor, with eyes so blue that she sprung out from the crowd. She looked stunning, I had to admit, the colors so rich against her complexion that any on-looker might have mistaken her for the bride.
I had to tell myself that my heart didn't constrict even the slightest at the thought.
I continued watching those doors, those large double doors, through which the real bride would step, donned in a dress I had yet to see, probably looking so beautiful that all thoughts of waterbenders and bridesmaids would be banished from my head.
And I held my breath, when the music picked up, and there she was, a vision in white and gold, an earth angel, traipsing down the aisle with delicacy I had never seen her practice.
It seemed so natural.
And as she neared, I found that I was wrong.
Thoughts of waterbenders and blue eyes never left my mind, not even for a moment.
And I wondered if maybe all our time spent planning the wedding together, planning the proposal, the decorations, everything Toph claimed she was 'no good at' together…was a mistake.
Toph approached, the veil covering her face, but I knew without needing to see that she was dazzling.
"Hi," she mouthed through the veil, and I let out a breath of relief, bowing fluidly to her father before taking her away, up towards the high priest.
"Hi," I whispered back as we stood before the gray-haired man.
Even as we recited our vows, even as I slipped the ring onto her finger, I was so acutely aware of the waterbender standing in the wings; waiting, watching…
And when I pulled Toph's veil away, I caught a glimpse of that blue-eyed girl, with tears streaming down her face. I told myself to stop thinking about her, to stop wondering, because she never gave me any indication of hesitance, of disapproval, of this marriage. I told myself she was happy for me, and for Toph, told myself she supported us even more than we supported ourselves.
So I bent down and kissed my bride.
I smiled through it all, through the entire wedding, keeping my thoughts to myself.
But I wasn't happy.
Not in the least bit was I happy.
I was bitter and resentful and regretful, and this was wrong, but what could I do? Call the whole thing off? No, not after it's gone so far, not when everyone was waiting for this, expected this, and how could I even voice my refusals? So I sucked up my nerve, told my thoughts to shut up, and let the wedding continue.
And as the kiss took place, the thundering applause muffled the sound of my whole world crashing.
THERE is my entry for Twilight Rose2's May Contest C: It's kind of a sad ending, isn't it? I'm not one for sad endings, but I wanted to try something different here. Of course, being a total Zutara fanatic, I feel the need to continue this and expand it into a possible two shot. What do you guys think? Oh, and yes, I'm aware Aang's not in this at all – not even mentioned, actually, but well…I wanted to focus on the triangle (well, rectangle, I suppose).
IN Sokka's excerpt, he was at Zuko's bachelor party, by the way, Lol. And he wandered away from it in search of Toph in his drunken haze, who was getting her beauty rest for her wedding the day after. I know this wasn't mentioned, but Zuko's bachelor party was last minute (because he insisted on not having one at all) but Sokka and Aang put one together.
AS for Katara, her giving away her mother's necklace was her own way of letting Zuko go (though it was her mother's, it would always remind her of Zuko, ever since he took it from her all those years ago). And it really was a symbol of her heart, her love, her selfish happiness – she was letting it all go.
NOW, neither Zuko nor Toph realize that the other has reservations about the wedding, or else they would have called it off, but they thought the other was totally happy…so they went through with it. And Toph cut Sokka off because she was scared about her feelings for him (as for the other night, their kiss...let's just say she wasn't so reluctant). And she thought Sokka regretted it, she didn't want to hear him apologizing for it, because there was absolutely nothing to be sorry for.
AND that final excerpt was meant to be a shared thought, from all of their points of view C: